November 7, 2017

Janet Redman, janet [at] priceofoil [dot] org
David Turnbull, david  [at] priceofoil [dot] org
John Noel, jnoel [at] cleanwater [dot] org

Groups Push Back on Billion-Dollar Giveaways to Dirty Energy in GOP Tax Bill

Today, a coalition of environmental and climate justice, Indigenous rights, public health, consumer, and environmental groups delivered two letters urging lawmakers to oppose including the giveaway of billions of taxpayer dollars to the fossil fuel industry in any tax bill. Advocates are worried that a provision to expand the Section 45Q tax credit to oil, gas, and coal companies could be quietly moved forward during negotiations on House and Senate tax bills.

One letter, signed by over 30 environmental groups, called for the end of attempts in Congress to expand a tax credit for coal- and gas-fired power plants (and industrial facilities) to capture and sell their climate pollution to oil companies to use in crude production. The tax credit is being sold to members of Congress as a climate solution, but if the giveaway goes through, it could be the nation’s largest taxpayer handout to the fossil fuel industry, and lead to annual emissions equal to those from 12.5 coal-fired power plants. The groups also identified potential impacts of enhanced oil recovery to groundwater and inadequate oversight from EPA and states as reason to oppose the incentives for enhanced oil recovery.

The second letter, voicing opposition to expanding 45Q by more than 40 local, state and national groups, called on lawmakers not to overlook the disproportionate burden of the tax credit on frontline communities already most impacted by an expanding fossil fuel industry and unfolding climate crisis. It stated in no uncertain terms that policies that funnel billions of taxpayer dollars to extend the life of polluting power plants while also supporting increased oil production are not climate solutions.

Quotes from Letter Signers:

Janet Redman, U.S. Policy Director, Oil Change International:
“U.S. taxpayers already subsidize the fossil fuel industry to the tune for more than $20 billion every year. Now polluters want more money in the name of fighting climate change? It’s a no-brainer. Subsidizing coal, gas, and oil companies is never a climate solution.”

Yvette Arellano, Policy Director, Houston-based Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (TEJAS):
“It’s unconscionable for Congress to contemplate billions in new handouts to Big Oil while our community is still recovering from a climate disaster. This tax credit is a win for the fossil fuel industry, but a loss for the climate, for taxpayers, and for fenceline communities, like ours, living in the shadow of fossil fuel infrastructure.”

Cynthia Mellon, Policy Coordinator, Climate Justice Alliance:
“Increasing subsidies for oil producers, as the FUTURE Act and Carbon Capture Act are designed to do, will not bring desperately needed cuts in carbon emissions. Meanwhile, the majority people of color and low-income communities located near old oil and gas development sites continue to be exposed to the pollutants used in Enhanced Oil Recovery. This is not the way forward for the climate or our communities.”

Mark Antoniewicz, Director of Communications, Hip Hop Caucus:
“It’s unconscionable that Congress is considering to give even more of our hard earned tax dollars to the fossil fuel industry instead of investing in clean energy solutions to climate change. It simply doesn’t make sense for our health, economic opportunity, and obligation to protect the planet for our kids.”

Andrew Grinberg, National Campaigns Special Projects Manager, Clean Water Action:
“Instead of subsidizing fossil fuel extraction, Congress should be working to increase protections for our water and climate. Enhanced oil recovery puts sources of drinking water at risk and extends the life of dirty oil fields creating toxic wastewater and air pollution. Encouraging more enhanced recovery is especially problematic since oversight of oil and gas injection activities relies on outdated rules, and regulators lack the data, staffing levels and resources to ensure its safety.”

William Snape, Senior Counsel, Center for Biological Diversity:
“It is the height of absurdity to pay the oil and gas industry for waste to be used to produce even more dirty fossil fuels. We need expansive clean renewable options not more subsidies for Exxon-Mobil and their ilk.”

Sarah Saylor, Senior Legislative Rep., Earthjustice:
“Our planet cannot afford to exploit any more fossil fuels, and our nation cannot afford to hand an additional $2.8billion per year to fossil fuel interests.  We need to encourage renewable energy and energy efficiency and stop incentivizing fossil fuel investments that will only make climate change worse.”

Aaron Mintzes, Senior Policy Counsel, Earthworks:
“We need to eliminate, not increase, subsidies to this form of drilling that threatens our drinking water. Dressing up this new subsidy as a climate solution makes it worse, not better.  We need to transition away from fossil fuels as quickly as possible to protect our health and climate.”

Jason Kowalski, Policy Director,
“Enhanced oil recovery subsidies would shoot climate action in the foot. Did Congress learn nothing from hurricane season this year? We need leaders coming together around real solutions to climate change: 100% clean energy and an end to new fossil fuel infrastructure.”

Ben Schreiber, Senior Political Strategist, Friends of the Earth:
“Carbon capture and sequestration is not now, and it never will be, a viable solution to our climate crisis.  If we are going to have any hope of avoiding the worst impacts of climate change, Congress must stop wasting money on false solutions.”


Notes to editors: